One more HRD killed in Guatemala, 21 have been killed so far in 2018


The environment for human rights defenders in Guatemala continues to be increasingly hostile as another human rights defender was killed. Juana Ramírez Santiago, activist and social leader from the Quiché region, was murdered on 21st September 2018. The activist had received threats over the last months for her work in defence of women's rights, which she reported to the authorities. Ramirez was the founder of the Red de Mujeres Ixil (Network of Ixil Women), an organisation founded in 1999 to protect and empower women, especially victims of gender violence. Different civil society organisations denounced the assassination and expressed their concern on the number of HRDs killed this year. 

The Comite de Desarrollo Campesino (Campesino Development Committee,CODECA) reported that one of its members, Eliceo Hernandez, was arrested on 10th September 2018, soon after CODECA announced a series of protests to demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales and the renewal of  the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). As reported previously on the Monitor, CODECA has been subject to criminalisation and a smear campaign over the past years.   

The organisation IM-Defensoras reported that LGBTI activist Stacy Velazquez was attack during a protest on 12th September 2018. The organisation said that the attack is a consequence of hate speech against the LGBTI community in Guatemala by fundamentalist groups and anti-rights movements. 

Peaceful Assembly

As covered by the Monitor, several protests are taking place in Guatemala to reject the government's decision not to renew the mandate on the CICIG. On 10th September 2018, the Constitutional Court ordered president Jimmy Morales to respect the right to peaceful assembly following a request by the Ombudsman, seeking to protect citizens from possible actions of repression by the Government during the protests planned for the days ahead. Nevertheless, CSOs reported an excessive presence of police officers during the protests. The Ombudsman also denounced the presence of the military during the protests and considered it to be an act of intimidation against demonstrators. 


The Asociacion de Periodistas de Guatemala (Journalists Association of Guatemala - APG) reported acts of intimidation by the national police against a group of journalists that were covering a press conference of the Constitutional Court related to the president's decision not to renew the mandate of the CICIG. Reports indicate that the police aggressively requested the journalists' identification and later a person who identified as a police officer took pictures of journalists present. 

Guatemala is currently on the Monitor's Watch List of countries where there is an urgent, immediate and developing threat to civic space. If you have information to share on the situation, please get in touch. Click here to find our contact details.